Erase and Replace is my philosophy of eliminating attributes of addictive relationships, behavior, emotion, and objects then Replacing them with things of greater value. This concept is fundamentally the keystone to a sure foundation of recovery and healing.
This process is challenging and will require an abundant amount of resolution to be effective. The repossession of our life is quite possibly the most exhilarating, yet scary time in early recovery. Having grown so accustomed to a certain lifestyle, the unknown for individuals early in recovery, can seem a daunting task if not approached with care. It is the courage to push for the unknown.
Grand is the task that lies before us all when we truly take a solemn look at where life has been, where it is now and where it could potentially lead. In order to establish a firm foundation in recovery and to thoroughly heal from addiction the transformation from victim to agent must start with Erasing the attributes that hold us hostage and anchor us from progression.
If you are in active addiction or early in recovery, close your eyes for a moment, take a deep breath and slowly open them. Take a look around your environment. Are the first things you see somehow connected to your addiction? These are the first things that need to be Erased within your environment if you hope to gain advantage in sobriety. A social detox is just as crucial as a physical detox in that following the sickness and illness; you must begin to cleanse your environment to become stronger. The social detox is much more difficult and tricky because you have convinced yourself that ‘things’ don’t actively keep your mind addicted, only that these items set you apart as an individual.
A total transformation is often the pivot point that so many in recovery are not willing to do. From the music they listen to, to the clothing they wear, to the haircut they adorn. Every aspect of your identity could also be the potential downfall to relapse. Countless times I have challenged a group member to cut their hair, take piercings out, or cover themselves from exposing parts of their body in order for them to discover their value within rather than external distractions. Unfortunately many refuse this simple request of seeing the inner value and potential progression in order to maintain, that which is familiar to them. Our attachments to things actually keep us hostage and stereotyped as addicts. Those that accept the challenge and follow through with social detox get a head start on Erasing those labels and are thrust into an environment of more opportunity.
Yet still our attachment to things pale in comparison to the individuals and relationships that we will have to Erase in order to have the freedom of success. Success can be defined as the attainment of one’s purpose. In order to maintain sobriety one must have a purpose. Thus, individuals in our lives that keep us from obtaining our goals will have to be dissolved in order for us to truly discover who we are and what we can become.
Personally speaking this is one of the most difficult aspects of recovery. Having had to commit social suicide myself in order to maintain a progression of healing I had to dissolve all friendships that could be a threat to my sobriety. It is difficult enough to go through a transformation with support let alone forgoing this journey by yourself. Yet sometimes it is necessary to learn how to be alone and begin learning about who you really are. This solo experience can be one of the most powerful mechanisms for growth if you learn how to become one with yourself. More often than not as these relationships dissolve anger, sadness, pain and discontent arise and the ability to offend is extremely high. It can literally reopen the wounds of abandonment, self-pity and neglect therefore halting the transformation.
If this principle is applied an understanding of progression is established, the next principle of Replace can move forward. An immense part of letting go is identifying when it is time to stay in a condition and when it’s time to move forward. Remember, when one door closes another opens but if we remain fixated on the closing door we fail to see the opening door behind us.
Filling the emptiness left behind by the Erasing of the potential setbacks can be a daunting task. Balance is key when establishing replacements for things, activities and people we needed to let go of. By nature we love to be surrounded in a comfort zone that maximizes security and contentment. Stepping out of the normal routine can be uncomfortable and lead to insecurity but getting out of a comfort zone and Replacing the addiction with things of greater value will enhance and increase your likelihood for achievement.
When replacing the addiction with something of greater value it is important to enrich your personal experience and to learn new things. Having new experiences will also entail learning how to act in new situations. This can be scary at times when we are unfamiliar with how the other half live. Once we immerse ourselves in new situations and settings we are able to break the routine and face the situation and tasks that will greatly increase the likelihood of success. Many individuals stepping into the Addict II Athlete program are fearful because they feel they are not able or athletic enough to be a part of the physical aspects we produce. Unbeknownst to so many we have athletes of all different levels of agility, strength and fitness and every new member can plug themselves in at any level they feel most comfortable with and increase from that point. Doubting our ability re-engages the scarcity paradigm that halts progression. By breaking the routine, taking on new challenges we are providing recovery by stimulating the senses.
Simply think of Erase and Replace like wiping down a chalkboard of a past life and writing a new story in which you are the Champion. In order to Erase those memories you must return and Replace them. Recently a client of mine took his young son and taught him to ride a bike without training wheels at a park that he once littered with drug paraphernalia; creating for them both new memories and a more excellent way of life.